Potential industry to get county incentives
by Dawn M. Kurry Richmond County Daily Journal
A company quickly making a name for itself as Europe’s largest supplier of wood pellets for industrial fuel may consider making Richmond County the home of its next plant, if everything lines up.
A public hearing was held Monday night in the chambers of the Richmond County Board of Commissioners, during which the company Enviva and the county came together to ask for public input regarding proposed local incentives for the potential industry.
County Manager Rick Sago’s message to the public was that although Enviva is checking out the area’s potential, it hasn’t made a decision yet.
“They are proposing to invest $117 million, assuming this project decides to come here, and hire 79 full-time employees with an average salary of almost $37,000 per year,” said Sago. “The commissioners approved putting $1.092 million towards a portion of the cost of the land that Enviva will be buying (payable over four years) after the construction of the facility begins. In addition they are offering a property tax grant to them for six years, which will begin after they occupy the facility and start paying their property taxes.”
The next step for Enviva involves communication with the state along similar lines.
“The company is not ready to make an announcement that they will locate in Richmond County yet because they are still waiting on incentive information from the state,” said Sago. “However, they want to make sure that the commissioners are on board if they do decide to move forward.”
The company takes hard wood, waste wood, soft wood and other wood products and chips them into pellets, which are then shipped to Europe where factories are converting their fuel systems to wood burners to save money. County Commissioners called the company’s potential to have a plant in Richmond County a “win-win,” because the plant is environmentally friendly, and employees would make more than the average worker in Richmond County.
According to Commissioner Thad Ussery, European factories have ordered enough wood pellets from Enviva to have them back-logged on orders for seven years.
“This is a first-class operation,” said Ussery. “I don’t see any environmental impact and it’s good for the county.”
Executive Vice President of the North Carolina Forest Products Industry Bob Schaefer attended the meeting to commend the possible site establishment of Enviva in Richmond County.
“Our field had 119,000 employed at one time and now we have 68,000, so I commend you,” said Schaefer. “This is an opportunity to increase employment, and I thank you.”
After a brief presentation from Enviva Spokesperson Morgan Pitts about the products used to make wood pellets and the display of a proposed plant picture, the Board of Commissioners approved the incentive. Pending further incentives may allow the company to begin groundbreaking within the next two years, officials said.
— Staff Writer Dawn M. Kurry can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 15, or by email at email@example.com.
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